On the Opinion Page: March 24, 2008

24Mar08

In which The Gay Recluse scores selected opinion pieces in The Times.

Paul Krugman/Taming the Beast

The Short Version: We need financial reform. So far none of the candidates seem to have noticed.

In his words: “But you don’t have to be an economic radical, or even a vocal reformer like Representative Barney Frank… to see that what’s happening now is the quid without the quo.”

Score: B- (Barely)
We’ve seen all of this before from Krugman, and though the points he makes about regulating financial markets are valid (particularly when we’re bailing them out), we’re not sure why he dumbs it down so much. We propose a moratorium on the use of “Let me explain.”

William Kristol/Let’s Not, and Say We Did

The Short Version: Obama’s race speech was politically expedient, but not what we really need.

In his words: “The last thing we need now is a heated national conversation about race.”

The Score: B- (Begrudging)
Although we hate the smarmy, superior tone of Kristol’s column, we reluctantly must agree with his larger point that a national conversation about race is not exactly of paramount importance, and in some ways only serves to reinforce negative stereotypes that — as Kristol rightly points out — are increasingly outdated as time passes. Although we would never deny the existence of racism, we tend to think a more accurate picture of the haves and have-nots in this country — and any attempt to close the gap between the two — must begin with class. Obviously the rural poor (let’s call them “white”) and the inner-city poor (“black”) have more in common with each other than with their upper-class counterparts of the same ethnicity.

Roger Cohen/A Second Life in Champagne

The Short Version: Readers! Gather round! Let me redeem you.

In his words: “Philipon, 45, has brown eyes of a boyish candor. He is bereft of self-pity, a man who’s come home. The stoical are discreet.”

The Score: D (Depressing)
Cohen treats us to the depressing story of a French executive who lost three (of four) children in the Thai tsunami three years ago, but has since come back to France, where he and his wife (devout Catholics, we’re told) have had two more. Although we have no desire to belittle the loss in question, we’re left less-than-inspired by Cohen’s nauseatingly sentimental and optimistic prose, which leaves us cruelly hardened to what in reality must have been the most harrowing experience imaginable.

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